Still at Ispo here in Munchen, Germany. Thought I’d get this out there quick as I believe it’s big news. Truly, I’ve lost count of how many times over the last decade I’ve been asked how to set up an “AT” style ski touring setup for kids. For a while Silvretta had the “Kidz” model Pure, but that dried up years ago. Since then it’s been a struggle for folks who’ve tried everything from modifying adult bindings to forcing their kids into boots three sizes too big so they can use adult bindings.
Enter Austrian ski company Hagan. “We’ll see how much of this stuff we actually sell,” they told me. I’m thinking it’ll be plenty, and want to give them kudos for taking the leap. The binding is of course the crux. To that, Hagan offers the Z02 Junior, a frame binding (works with any ski boot) running from 225-280 BSL, release values 2-7.
They also offer a specifically purposed kid’s “Sky Force” touring ski (125 cm, 135 cm and 145 cm) paired with re-branded Kola pre-cut skins.
Adding to the above, climbing skin company Contour (some of the best skins, in our opinion) is selling their Startup kid sized binding touring adapter (BSL 245-305). While a bit heavy and fiddly, this is definitely an option as well, especially if the kids in question are going short distances or are not highly motivated. Using the Startup, the youngster can tour with her alpine gear so she has total familiarity and won’t experience any gear issues on the descent. Since the Startup is adjustable for boot lengths and ski binding mount distances, it can stay in the family and be used over and over again for various ages.
Oh, and I know some of you are going to ask “why not a pintech binding for kids?” Word from the engineers is it’s tough to get a tech binding to yield release values below 3 or so. More, clicking into a tech binding would be a lot to ask of a younger, perhaps less motivated child, though kids as they grow and get involved can certainly graduate to tech binding setups adjusted to lower release value ranges, perhaps with modifications such as removing one of the rear lateral release springs.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.